Cry Me a River

Do Tears Dilute Your Pain? was a post I had several people commented  that tears cleansed the body of certain chemicals.  Not one to leave a topic alone here’s some excerpts from an article that I found interesting.

Written by Natasha Mann, health journalist
The Health Benefits of Crying

Emotional or stress-related tears are thought to help us through difficult times in a number of ways.

“. . . research has suggested that tears could actually be a way of flushing negative chemicals out of the body and doing you a world of good. We look at why it’s good to cry.

A study by Dr William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the St Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre in Minnesota, found that there is an important chemical difference between emotional or stress-related tears and those simply caused by physical irritants – such as when cutting onions.”

Emotional Tears:

“They found that emotional tears contained more of the protein-based hormones prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and leucine enkephalin (a natural painkiller), all of which are produced by our body when under stress.”

Basal tears

“We all need the layer of protective fluid covering our eyeballs known as continuous or basal tears.

Basal tears contain lysozyme, a powerful and fast acting antibacterial and anti-viral agent. Without this, the eye – because it’s a moist environment – would suffer enormous amounts of bacterial attack and you could potentially go blind.”

Eye watering

“One of the most important functions crying can have is to protect our eyes from irritants and foreign bodies, such as dust or getting rid of the acidic fumes when cutting onions.

These tears are known as reflex tears. When our eyes come under attack from irritants, the lachrymal glands in our eyes start stimulating more fluid to wash away the irritant and drain it from the eye.

Physically, they are thought to wash toxic chemicals out of our bodies, while psychologically giving your feelings a good airing is thought to be a healthy tonic.”

Stress release

“Crying is thought to help reduce stress, which can have a damaging effect on our health and has been linked to a number of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and obesity.

According to the Minnesota study, crying can help to wash chemicals linked to stress out of our body, one of the reasons we feel much better after a good cry. Higher levels of adrenocorticotrophic (ACTH) have been found in emotional tears (compared to reflex tears).

Removing this chemical from the body is beneficial because it triggers cortisol, the stress hormone – too much of which can lead to health problems associated with stress.

‘When you’re upset and stressed, you have an imbalance and build up of chemicals in the body and crying helps to reduce that.'”

Dealing with sorrow

“Aside from removing toxic substances from our body, crying can also have the psychological benefit of lifting our mood and helping us to deal with painful situations.

Deep crying is generally felt to be good for you in that it exposes and expresses deep emotions, which means they can then be dealt with.

‘Whether crying is good for you depends a lot on the reasons for it, the context, and how it is handled.

‘Public displays tend to be looked down on, and any emotional catharsis in a situation, such as the work place, may be far outweighed by disapproval, embarrassment and guilt.

Crying can also signal a need for help from others and bring people together. People are usually more likely to help someone when they see them dissolve into tears, and it can prompt helpful behaviour.

It may also be a signal for physical contact, such as a hug or reassuring hand placed on an arm – and touch has been linked with helping stress reduction”.

Too many tears

“However, frequent crying is not always good for you and can be a sign of more serious conditions, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and postnatal depression.

What’s more, the healing affect of crying won’t work for everyone. Researchers have discovered that people who suffer a mood disorder are less likely to feel better after crying. If you’re depressed and crying all the time, it’s not good and you might need help,’ says Dr Abigael San.”

Counting the tears

“88.8 per cent of people feel better after crying, with 8.4 per cent feeling worse.
On average women cry 47 times a year and men a mere seven.
Until puberty, crying levels are much the same for each gender – testosterone may reduce crying in boys while oestrogen and prolactin increases the tendency in girls.
Men may excrete more of the toxins related to emotional stress in their sweat because they have higher sweat levels than women.”

The mantra to children ‘Be brave, don’t cry’ might not be the most helpful because some believe crying can actually help reduce pain.” health benefits of crying

5 comments on “Cry Me a River

  1. Very interesting. I know I cry more than 47 times a year. sometimes it’s just a few tears, like on Monday when I was waiting for my lumbar puncture, waiting on the table, I wasn’t afraid, just over come with emotion that I had to go through this again…so the tears flowed.

    I am one of those that cries at every sad thing in a movie…heck I’ve cried during a cartoon! I cry easy, but I laugh often. My emotions are at the front, I don’t hide them.

    I actually do not like to have “a good cry” when I’m upset. I end up with a migraine, it aggravates my Meniere’s, and makes me feel just yucky. Every once in a while I will have a break down cry…and Stuart will hold me and I will flood, then I’ll turn and tell him…thank you but go away, I need to stop now or I’ll get very sick. He used to look so lost at those times, but now he understands. If he stays I will not be able to get control of my self, I feel safe and feel I can just let go in his arms…but I need to stop or I’ll be spinning soon. Really, I hate those “good cry” times.

    So crying….I like to say…I cry easy and laugh often…I’m complicated.


  2. Judy I had in my own small way raised a pertinent question in a poem by me many years ago..a part of my book and it was adjudged as best poem in a poetry competition..did I share with you some time.. perhaps I did.. essence was we grow we are expected to hide our tears.. because others will feel we are weak…pretension is a must..cry behind a smiling mask..that’s OK.. reaching a stage where nothing really should overwhelm and tears should become alien…. it was a satire on such thoughts..

    Here’s the link.

    I have always believed that one should never feel ashamed of one’s emotions.. cry your heart out if you want.. why worry.. becuase tears do dilute pain….things don’t cry.. it’s a privilege god has bestowed only on living beings..


    • Missed mentioning about the post.. once again very informative..and beautifully narrated.. yes, tears being the diamonds rolling out from the depths of one’s inner being need to be rolled out only on the reasons worthy of them.. one has to be careful, yes..



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